The PEAC Ascent
Spring 20
10

The newsletter of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center

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10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219-7799
tel: 503-768-6600
fax: 503-768-6642

 peac@peaclaw.org
www.peaclaw.org



In This Issue
PGE Boardman
Bradwood LNG
PEAC 2009-2010 Class
Neighbors for Clean Air (Guest Article)
Student Spotlight: Tara Zuardo


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Greetings! 

In this issue of the PEAC Ascent, we'll bring you up to speed on some of our most active cases and introduce this year's PEAC class. We've had an especially heavy docket this year, and are delighted to have such gifted, passionate students working with us.

With best wishes for a fantastic spring,
Allison, Aubrey, Dan M., Dan R., Karen, and Tom

 
Can We Have Cleaner Air, Sooner?
the Latest in the PGE Boardman Case

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PEAC continues to represent five local, regional and national organizations in their fight to protect public health and the environment from pollution they allege is illegal at Portland General Electric's (PGE) coal-fired power plant in Boardman, Oregon. The Boardman plant is the largest single source of air and global warming pollution in Oregon. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reports that the Boardman power plant emits about six percent of Oregon's total greenhouse gas emissions per year.

 
PGE recently announced a plan to transition Boardman off of coal in 2020. While our clients give it some credit for trying to lessen the plant's greenhouse gas emissions - which burden Oregon with five million tons of carbon dioxide each year, PGE has stated that it will only transition the plant in 2020 if their efforts to get revisions and exemptions to state and federal air quality rules requiring pollution controls are successful.  If required to install a scrubber anytime before 2020, instead of transitioning early, PGE will continue to operate the plant until 2040 and beyond. PGE is currently seeking approval for both the 2020 plan and $500 million investments in pollution controls to maintain the plant until 2040 and beyond from the Public Utility Commission.
 
Our clients care deeply about global warming and the health and environmental problems associated with pollution from coal such as sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. We share these concerns and will continue to work toward a resolution that will protect Oregon's public health and special places as well as help prevent catastrophic climate change - all while avoiding an undue burden on electricity customers and providing a fair and reasonable transition for plant workers and their communities.  While this is a tall order, with PEAC's help, our clients are forging the way to a safer, cleaner energy future for Oregon.

 
Proposed Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline Could Pose a Serious Threat to Salmon

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PEAC is representing a coalition of national, regional and local groups who oppose efforts to site a liq
uefied natural gas ("LNG") import terminal on the Columbia River about 35 miles upstream from the river's mouth near Bradwood Landing, Oregon. Our coalition's efforts are a key part of a multi-faceted legal strategy on the local, state, and federal levels to fight the pipeline's development.

Our suit contends that this proposed terminal would harm water quality and aquatic habitat in the Columbia River estuary, which provides critical habitat for threatened juvenile salmon species. One of PEAC's clients, Columbia Riverkeeper, emphasizes this point: "The proposed LNG projects and pipelines would cross thousands of Oregon rivers, streams and wetlands, threaten salmon, and seriously degrade key habitats in the Columbia Estuary (and) Coos Bay. For example, in addition to degrading over 58 acres of critical habitat for Columbia River salmon, 1,000-foot long tankers for the Bradwood Landing LNG project would intake more than 15 billion gallons a year of Columbia River water as ballast to weigh down empty and outgoing LNG tankers. These massive water withdrawals would kill or injure many thousands of juvenile salmonids."

PEAC's clients charge that the procedures used by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") to evaluate and approve LNG facilities seriously undermine the Clean Water Act's requirements and the individual state's ability to enforce water quality standards. In September 2008, FERC approved the Bradwood LNG proposal. In its brief, PEAC argues that FERC's approval order conspicuously ignored the express requirement in Section 401 of the Clean Water Act that such a proposal must first receive a certificate from the responsible state authorities indicating that the proposal complies with state water quality standards. FERC issued its approval before Oregon or Washington had issued the required certifications under Section 401. PEAC also alleges in its suit that FERC's approval also violated similar requirements in the Endangered Species Act and Coastal Zone Management Act, and that FERC's analysis of the proposal's impacts also seriously underestimated its adverse effects on aquatic resources.

In February 2009 PEAC sought direct review before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals of FERC's approval of this terminal.

PEAC students Anzie Nelson, C.J. Eder and Heather Vaughn helped PEAC Managing Attorney Tom Buchele draft PEAC's brief and prepare the 10 volume Excerpts of Record. Anzie, C. J. and Heather each researched and drafted an important section of the brief and Heather, in particular, spent many hours gathering the materials for the Excerpts of Record.

FERC is scheduled to file its responsive brief in April, and PEAC will submit a reply brief in early June.


Gill netters protesting at the proposed terminal site.
(photo courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper)

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Meet PEAC's 2009-2010 Class
 
Back row, l-r: Lyndsey Bechtel, Bryan Telegin, Heather Vaughn, Andrew Newkirk, Brett Hartl, Genevieve Byrne, Ben Luckett, John Sturm, CJ Eder, Jeffrey Crider. Front row, l-r: Anzie Nelson,Tara Zuardo, Sara Ghafouri, Adele Ewert. Not pictured: Mitchell Tsai
BWClassPhoto
 
Neighbors for Clean Air & PEAC Team Up
by Mary Peveto, Mother & Citizen Activist

This issue of the PEAC Ascent features our first guest article by a client.  We were so impressed by Neighbors for Clean Air's resolve to bring about positive change for its families that we asked Mary Peveto, the group's founder, to tell you--in her own words--about her neighborhood's fight for clean air. 

Mary Peveto

MaryP
Last February I was a stay-at-home mom, busy enough with managing a household and resettling in Portland after years out of the state and out of the country. By March I had become an industrial air toxins activist. I had stumbled across a national study indicating that my daughters' school was in the top 2% of schools with the nation's worst air quality.

I regaled a cousin who has worked on climate change policy for major corporations and for city governments about my "power of the people story" of fighting large industry: the letter writing campaign, the petition, the large town hall meeting in the elementary school auditorium. I shared our community's sense of betrayal at the hands of the government agency responsible for the regulation of polluters, and the seemingly insurmountable hurdles of economics and powerful interests that citizens are up against. I asked, "What should we do?"  She answered immediately: "Get really good lawyers."

Luckily for our citizen campaign, the lawyers came to us.

At our first community meeting, 50 concerned neighbors discussed what to do about the industrial air pollution in our backyard. We heard from long-time activists who had fought the presence of industrial toxins in the neighborhood for decades. Frustration and resignation threatened to prevail, particularly because the company in question complied with regulatory obligations, with no record of gross violations or upsets. As the meeting drew to a close, a young man raised his hand and explained how he worked with an environmental law advocacy organization at Lewis & Clark. He said, "We've been looking at the permit for this company and studied some of the calculations. There might be discrepancies."

Future assessments of our efforts may determine that moment was as important to us as the on-side kick at the opening of the second half was to the Saints. As citizens, we generally understand -and best articulate- the broad strokes of our own experience: billowing smokestacks, black dust covering our porches, odors which -no matter how offending - have become almost routine; but at that moment it became clear: the real power is in the ability to decipher the arcane and inaccessible language of the state-issued Title V Air permits. And, more importantly, to determine if within that language resides the intent and the spirit of the Clean Air Act.

Since Aubrey Baldwin, one of the staff attorneys  of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center came to work on the ESCO Title V permit renewal, representing neighbors and Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the balance of power has shifted at least to even the playing field. Citizens now have a stronger voice that gives us the power to exercise our rights in the regulatory process and to air our concerns in an informed and effective way. In our story, PEAC fulfills a unique role: providing the legal hammer and oversight in the regulatory process, even in absence of gross or obvious infractions. The leadership that Ms. Baldwin brings is invaluable to protecting the rights, and the lungs, of the citizens of Oregon.
MaryP
Student Spotlight: Tara Zuardo
In each issue of the PEAC Ascent, we like to spotlight a current PEAC student to illustrate the dedication our students have to causes bigger than themselves. This spring, we talked with San Francisco Bay Area native Tara Zuardo. Tara is using her time at PEAC to learn to apply the Endangered Species Act and strengthen her long-term goal of working in the field of Animal Law.

Why did you choose Lewis & Clark Law School?


My goal has always been to go into Animal Law, so Lewis & Clark was my first choice, especially since it has so many specialized, practical courses in both Environmental and Animal Law, like PEAC.

Why were you interested in PEAC?

While taking Professor Rohlf's Wildlife Law class in my second year, I became interested in endangered species issues and how the Endangered Species Act could specifically be used in the field of Animal Law. I'm also the type of learner who needs practical experience in order to learn a subject, and the clinic was obviously very well-run and taught by staff attorneys who genuinely enjoy working with students and who are amazing, charismatic teachers.
 
What are you working on in PEAC?

All of my assignments thus far have addressed the Endangered Species Act. I have worked on some really interesting litigation and oral argument preparation related to grizzly bear and vernal pool habitat protection, as well as bald eagle listing petitions.
 
Favorite educational moment at PEAC?

It's difficult to choose just one moment! I have had some great opportunities to learn how the Endangered Species Act is practically applied and litigated through the various moot courts I've done with Professor Rohlf in preparation for 9th Circuit arguments. Actually having to come up with an argument for a case has clarified certain complex sections of laws like the Endangered Species Act that were otherwise unclear from just reading textbooks. PEAC also provides an excellent opportunity for students to make the connection between how their supervising attorney explains a particular subject to them as a teacher, and then how that attorney explains that same subject to a judge in a court. It really is the best way for students to learn how to become attorneys and use arguments to convince a court.
 
How do you think PEAC experience will impact your future goals?

It's hard for me to imagine what students who haven't had a class like PEAC do when they have to, for example, write a brief for the first time after they graduate, especially in Environmental Law, where litigation can be so complex and science-based. This class has taken me to that next step of feeling prepared and confident to dive into these issues. It's also provided me with a real education in subjects like Civil Procedure which seemed so elusive and abstract when I learned about them in class two years ago. But perhaps the most useful lesson has been on how politics and litigation work off of each other. Thanks to PEAC, I have a greater appreciation of how important agency policy is in addition to litigation, and my future goals will therefore be more interdisciplinary to address policy in producing change.
 
What are your post-graduate goals?

My goal is to use my legal education to obtain a job in wildlife and animal conservation, policy, and protection. In the long term, I hope that I can put my experience to use by founding a nonprofit involved in wildlife rescue, education, advocacy, and litigation.

Not Yet a Supporter? Please Join Us!

In addition to training the next generation of environmental advocates, PEAC provides pro bono legal representation for environmental organizations in the region.

As a self-funded clinic, we rely on the generosity of individuals, foundations and local businesses to help us deliver expert services to PEAC students and clients. Your contributions are critical to sustaining PEAC and its commitment to protect the natural resources of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. 

Click Here to Donate Online.

Click Here for more ways to give to PEAC.


PEAC Logo Full

Founded in 1996, PEAC is the domestic environmental legal clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. Our staff of six is passionate about achieving two goals: using the law to protect and restore the environment, and producing highly skilled environmental advocates by providing law students with real-world experience working on important cases.

 

PEAC provides free legal services for nonprofit conservation organizations. Our clients range from small grassroots groups - the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, for example - to large national groups such as the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity. Regardless of size and geographic scope, our clients rely on our services as a key legal tool to help secure needed environmental protections, both due to the quality of our legal representation and because there are few non-profit, pro bono law firms in the Northwest.

 

As Lewis & Clark Law School's environmental legal clinic, PEAC also provides hands-on legal experience to law students and summer clerks. We educate and train the next generation of public interest environmental attorneys, who receive valuable experience in client contact, legal research, drafting legal briefs and even arguing cases in court. Many of PEAC's former students now work for local, regional and national conservation organizations; others work for a variety of governmental entities to implement and enforce environmental laws. By providing students with legal experience they do not get from textbooks, PEAC helps ensure that the environmental community and those charged with carrying out laws to protect the environment will continue to have excellent legal representation in the future.